What we think of as the inevitable results of aging joint stiffness, loss muscle mass, inability to jump or sprint, diminished energy and aerobic capacity, love handles, greater body fat composition, high blood pressure, etc. are actually more a product of inactivity, poor nutrition, and or improper training than age itself. The criticality of fitness into the later years can not be overstated in terms of slowing the aging process.
Exercise can lessen the physical and emotional changes that are natural consequence of aging and create performance potential the aged did not think possible.
Some of the benefits of a consistent fitness program that includes strength, endurance, and flexibility are the following:
- Stress reduction
- Greatly Improved Athletic Performance
- Reduced risk of heart problems
- Better sleep
- Improved range of motion, speed, and appearance
- Less joint stiffness
- Reduced Cholesterol Levels
- Reduced Cancer Risk
If an individual weighs the same at 60 as at 18, generally, the 60 year old will have more body fat and less muscle mass. To revert to the same condition as his younger version, the older man must compensate with resistance training and aerobics to keep the metabolic rate at a high level and burn fat.
Aging also involves a loss in reflexes and recovery times after injury. Not getting injured in the first place through preparation pays huge dividends given the longer rehab times if you do injure yourself.
Women have a specific issue as they age with the potential problem of osteoporosis, which is a gradual decrease in the bone strength and density resulting in an increased risk of fractures and collapsed vertebrae. Although bone density decreases in both sexes with aging, older women have a much higher risk of osteoporosis. Exercise and diet can, to some degree, help lessen the effects of osteoporosis.
There are many forms of arthritis and some of them, like severe rheumatoid arthritis, can also affect younger people. In general, though, the wear and tear of arthritis can cause uncomfortable and painful bone problems and make healing more difficult as we age. The discomfort is not restricted to the hand and fingers either. Arthritis can afflict any joint.
Exercise at age 60 and above involves some aerobic activity four to five times a week for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes. This could include brisk walking, stair step machine, treadmill, mild jogging, or biking.
Muscle strengthening is critical to heighten metabolic rate, tone the muscles, and feel good about yourself. Lifting light weights with high repetitions are the preferred route.
Stretching is also very critical as you age. Stretch both before and after your aerobic and do strengthening exercises.
Consult a physician before you start any exercise program.